There has been a tremendous increase in the popularity of social media influencers among brands. And a growing number of brands have become interested in collaborating with social media influencers.
This has brought on a host of challenges as well, especially when it comes to maintaining transparency about brand-influencer relationships. So the FTC created guidelines that brands and influencers must follow.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a US federal agency, protects consumers from unfair and deceptive business practices. The new FTC rules for influencers precisely mention that influencers have to clearly reveal brand endorsements to their followers in their posts.
These new FTC rules for influencers cannot be overlooked by brands, marketers, or influencers. Also, it is important that brands understand how exactly the new FTC rules for influencers will affect their campaigns.
So, this post will talk about the important takeaways of the FTC guidelines for brands. These points will help brands comply with disclosure guidelines. This guide will also help them run successful influencer marketing campaigns in accordance with the new FTC rules for influencers.
Key Takeaways for Brands from the FTC Rules for Influencers
The FTC rules for influencers are vital because they help consumers differentiate between paid advertisements and organic posts. The disclosure guidelines also help followers understand if they are just engaging with their favorite influencer or being marketed to.
Some social media platforms provide tools which can help you design your influencer marketing campaigns in accordance with the FTC rules. These tools on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and other social platforms will help you simplify your efforts to comply with disclosure guidelines.
Under the FTC rules for influencers, Instagram introduced a “Paid Partnership with” tag in March 2017. This tag will help your influencers easily highlight any sponsored content. In addition to this, ask your influencers to use hashtags like #paid, #ad, or #sponsored to further disclose your partnership.
Image Source – Instagram
Also, make sure to mention the disclosure at the beginning of the content or before the “More” button. Ensure that your influencers don’t use vague hashtags like #ambassador, #sp, or #spon. For Instagram Stories, you need to ask you influencer to superimpose a disclosure on the image.
Just like Instagram, Facebook has launched a Branded Content Tool and new policies regarding influencer marketing. This also helps your influencers simplify the disclosure process so they can easily comply with the FTC rules for influencers. First, ask your influencers to request access to the Branded Content Tool
Image Source – Facebook
Once they fill out the form, Facebook will allow them to tag branded content. Influencers can tag the content based on the objective of the campaign and the type of content they post.
Your influencers can use hashtags like #paid or #sponsored and tag the brand to disclose sponsorship. If it is video content, they should clearly disclose sponsorship by displaying text over the video or speaking about it in the video. Make sure they don’t use vague phrases like “video was made possible by…“ or “ Thanks to…”
YouTube has introduced a feature that allows creators to add an optional text disclosure statement for video campaigns. This will help you and your YouTube creators to maintain transparency about your relationship in accordance with the FTC rules for influencers.
If your influencer is a YouTube creator, ask them to visit their video manager page in the Creator Studio and then follow the steps below to complete the process.
First, they should select the video on which they need to add a disclosure and click “edit.” Then go to the “Info and Settings” tab and click “Advanced Settings.” Next, search for the “Content declaration” section and tick the box if the video is a paid promotion.
Image Source – YouTube
This YouTube process might seem a bit difficult to follow but it is important to avoid any future issues related to FTC disclosure. In addition to this tool, you can also use unambiguous and clear phrases like, “This video is sponsored by…” And add the sponsorship information above the “show more” button.
Make sure that the disclosure is added in both written and verbal form and add it at the beginning of the video.
For endorsements in blog posts, make sure to add a disclosure with precise and clear phrases. You can ask your influencer to use phrases like, “This post is sponsored by…” in a clear and legible font.
In addition to this, to adhere to the FTC rules for influencers, your bloggers should add a disclosure right at the beginning of the post. This will ensure that their readers don’t have to scroll down to understand the nature of the post.
If you’re running a campaign on Twitter, ask your influencers to include #paid or #ad in sponsored tweets. Along with these hashtags, your influencers can also mention and tag your brand, whenever applicable.
FTC Guidelines for Communication
Apart from FTC endorsement guidelines for social platforms, there are FTC guidelines for communication as well. Brands need to follow these communication guidelines as well to avoid getting in trouble with the FTC.
When it comes to hashtags, brands should avoid vague hashtags like #partner, #collab, #sp, or #spon. Clearly, these hashtags don’t reflect the nature of sponsored content. So, you need to ask your influencers to use #sponsored, #paid, or #ad in their post.
Also, make sure that your influencer includes the disclosure hashtags at the very beginning of the content.
Phrases like, “Paid for by…” “This product was given to me by…” and/or “Sponsored by…” are also acceptable to comply with the FTC communication guidelines.
However, ensure that your influencer never uses more ambiguous language like, “This brand rocks!” “Thanks to…” “In partnership with…” and/or “In collaboration with…” Such language will not help you abide by the FTC rules for influencers.
Examples of Brands/Influencers Complying with FTC Rules for Influencers
And, as you can see in the screenshot below, she has used “#ad” which clarifies the nature of the content.
Image Source – Instagram
2. Happily Hughes, at the very beginning of her blog post clearly highlighted the nature of the content with a clear disclosure. It helps her readers immediately understand that they are about to read a sponsored blog post.
Image Source – happilyhughes.com
3. Nyma Tang is a beauty influencer with 890K subscribers on her YouTube channel. Recently, she collaborated with a makeup brand, Makeup Forever, to review their new concealer.
As you can see in the description box of the video, she has clearly mentioned that the video is sponsored.
Image Source – YouTube
There is no question that the popularity of influencer marketing is growing. An increasing number of brands have started to use influencer marketing as part of their marketing strategies. However, to avoid any form of legal or financial penalties, it is crucial that brands and influencers follow the FTC rules for influencers.
Brands, as well as influencers, need to invest some time into understanding the FTC guidelines and requirements for branded content. Some social media platforms have a built-in tool to help you abide by the FTC rules. In addition to that, brands also need to focus on the language their influencers are using in the content.
What are your thoughts on the FTC rules for influencers? Please feel free to share your views in the comments.